Note: This will be the first in a series of posts on the wineries I discovered at the D.C. International Wine and Food Festival.
On my second day at the festival, I stopped by the booth for Jessie's Grove Winery, a family owned winery located in Lodi, CA. I had 3 hours of trade tasting ahead of me, and this was my second stop for the day. Since I was at the festival the moment the doors opened, I felt like I had more leeway on the second day to stop and chat and learn more about the vineyards.
The owner was at the festival by himself pouring the wines and was kind enough to spend quite a while talking with me about his winery, though he told me that his mother is the family historian and has actually written a book about the family and the winery. The family has owned the property since 1858 and has some of the oldest vineyards in the US, with the oldest vines sill producing having been planted in 1889. Talk about a winery that might actually make a claim on "Old Vine" for their labels! They have been farming their land continuously for 5 generations, though they did not begin making their own wine for commercial sale until 1997. In total, Jessie's Grove boasts 250 acres of grapes and produces 12,000 cases of wine per year. I was able to taste 4 wines at the festival:
2006 Earth Zin and Fire: Retails for $12.99. I got vanilla, cream, berries, blackberries and an aftertaste of maple syrup, the kind you get from Vermont.
2005 Westwind Old Vine Zinfandel: Retails for $24.50 and is made from grapes from 65 year old vines. I found the wine to be spicy, with cherry and raspberry.
2005 Ancient Vine Carignane: Retails for $18.00. The label for this wine was designed by the owner's mother, and was the original label for all the winery's products. The wine is made from the vineyards planted in 1889! I found the wine to be smoky, with vanilla toast, currants, and dark red fruit.
2004 Petite Sirah: Retails for $24.50. Creamy, dark fruit, blueberry, smooth and ready to drink.
Two other points of interest: Jessie's Grove practices sustainable farming and their tasting room is housed in a building constructed in 1890! A very nice family operation, and some of my favorite wines tasted at the festival.